Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday Factoid: Go-Bag

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What would you put in your emergency "go-bag"?

I'm not sure of the context of a go-bag. I guess this is something you prepare if you think you're going to have to leave your home on short notice either due to, like, having a baby or something or if a catastrophe happens. And I'm not sure how I'm accomplishing this escape--like, can I bring enough stuff that it would comfortably fit in a car, or do I have to carry it in my backpack? What's the deal here?

I'm going to guess it's supposed to be somewhere between a backpack and a small suitcase. How about that?

I would bring:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Phone and charger
  • Video camera and charger
  • MP3 player, earbuds, and charger
  • Clipboard, paper, notebook, and pencil case
  • Underwear, socks, shoes, PJs, jeans, shirts, and sweaters for 2 days
  • Hair ties, hairbrush
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Contact lenses, case, storage solution, extra contacts, eyedrops, glasses
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner
  • Menstrual supplies
  • Razor, tweezers, scissors, bandages, painkillers, ointments, sunblock, cotton swabs
  • Tissues and wet wipes
  • A deck of cards
  • My journal and a pen 
  • Keys/wallet/ID, money, and insurance info
  • A bottle of water
  • A box of granola bars
  • Instant coffee, creamer, sweetener 
  • If there's room, a pillow 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Books I Love: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

Shel Silverstein is well known for his whimsical poetry and also his provocative adult material. And though it's usually pretty easy to read his work and determine whether it's written "for kids," the book of his that's my favorite definitely walks that line. It's ostensibly a children's story. It's actually a lesson for us all.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is, on its surface, a book about a character who is a missing piece, looking for another person with a piece missing so they can complete each other and "roll." The piece tries several different partners and either doesn't fit with them or cannot sustain rolling with them for long, and it becomes obsessed with finding its completion in another piece. But when it meets the Big O--a round character with no pieces missing and no place to stick someone else--the piece realizes that it also wants to be able to roll by itself, and it dedicates itself to doing so.

This book is my anthem for obvious reasons. I don't like to view relationships as people who are two halves of a whole. Their relationship is not them; they are not incomplete without each other as people. Their relationship may not be able to roll without them fitting together, but they, individually, are still people. Not halves. Not pieces. And the concept that you need to find "another half" before you can be a whole person is disturbing to me. Especially since I have people misinterpreting me as a missing piece all the time because they don't believe in Big O's.

I think it's great if two people (or more) can combine into a relationship that rolls, that they're happy in, that they complete their dreams together and even depend on each other to go down life's hills. But it's absurd to say that's the only way to access happiness. There's nothing wrong with choosing a partnered life. It's not lesser. But I think it's true that some people, like me, are happier rolling on their own.

What's notable about The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is that it ends with the Missing Piece catching up to the Big O and they are rolling, independently, beside each other. Most people want the option of rolling partners here and there--doesn't mean you have to be joined at the hip. I like having people like that. People who could maybe help me roll if I couldn't now and then, and people I'd help in the same way, but still doing most of our rolling on our own. The Missing Piece learned, through the act of pushing itself to roll, that it could round the edges off its corners and roll more easily, because it decided it wanted its life to take that shape. That's how I roll, too.

I also love that the book has several references to how in-real-life relationships work even though it's using shape metaphors. Most of the shape couples looked like Pac-Man and a little wedge to fit into the Pac-Man. But there was one that was two Pac-Man looking things clamped onto each other and rolling. I wondered if that was a reference to same-sex relationships (since we have this concept in heteronormative society that male/female cis couples are "supposed to" go together because their parts fit together in a reproductive sense). There was also a really touching bit with the Missing Piece finding a place to fit and then after a while it didn't fit anymore because it grew.

"I didn't know you were going to grow," said the Missing Piece's partner, and it replied, "I didn't know I was going to grow either."

Sometimes what "completes" you or your goals at one point changes over time. That's important to recognize.

I love this book and the allegories about relationships, but more than anything I love that it uplifts people like me and shows what our relationships can be like without suggesting that this is the "only" or "better" way to be.

Everyone should read it and apply its lessons to their lives.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Personal Digest Saturday: June 18 – June 24

Life news this week: 
  • This week was terrible, with exceptions at the beginning and end.
  • Saturday I made a comic and got a lot of housework done while chatting on the phone with my friend Sarah, with whom I have not spoken in months. It was great to catch up with her.
  • Sunday was pretty nice too. I got up early to hang out with Meghan! She took a nap and when she got up we ate pizza together, and then we went to the play 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (which was directed by our college friend John). We had a great time at the play and we got to see our old pal Jorge, and then we hung out a little bit more before she had to go. Then that night I was playing with a Cartoon Network app on my phone and saw some footage I hadn't seen before from an upcoming Steven Universe episode, and I couldn't find any references to it online anywhere (!!!) so I put a crappy version of the clip on Tumblr and it got over five thousand notes because people were flipping out about it. I don't think I've ever been among the first to find new SU stuff before. It was cool.
  • Monday was awful. I woke up to multiple texts about various health emergencies for ALL THREE OF MY BEST FRIENDS. Meghan was in the hospital for pain that turned out to be a cyst (the first guess was a kidney stone), Victor went to the hospital for some um groin stuff (and as I write this six days later he's still there), and Jeaux found out he has to have surgery for a polyp in his sinuses that's way way bigger than they thought. I got a lot done at work despite spending a lot of time texting with people to find out what was going on. And then after grocery shopping I had some burritos with Jeaux at Moe's and was useless a lot at home.
  • Tuesday was kind of bad too. Work was okay and I ate potatoes with my mom in the evening, and then I made jam muffins. Then my mom got mad at me when I said the video she was watching had an excessive number of commercials, and she packed up her stuff and left instead of sleeping over. I have no idea why she was mad at me or why she did that, because like . . . we bicker about stuff sometimes when we disagree, but in this case there wasn't even an argument? I feel like I'm missing something that she thinks I know what it is, but I don't.
  • Wednesday I got stuck at work an hour and a half past when I was trying to leave, finishing up a proposal, and had trouble getting in touch with Jeaux because his phone wasn't receiving texts for some reason. So I ended up waiting ANOTHER twenty minutes after THAT before I got to meet up with him after his phone started working again. We biked to Marlow's to try to use a coupon, but it was too crowded, so we just ate at Panera. We hung out and just talked about cartoons and stuff. After he left I finished my comic drawing and talked to Victor on the phone, and helped him with an application since he can't do very much from the hospital.
  • Thursday we got our proposal in without any problems, and at home I worked on comics in preparation for Drink and Draw. And I found out my friend's mom has breast cancer. I'm just going to drown or something, and kinda feel like even with all the sympathy and support I give to other people, I'm receiving silence and unnecessary hostility in other areas of my life.
  • Friday was pretty okay. Work was fine and after work Belle came to get me for Mel's hot dogs with Eric (I had a veggie dog of course) before we headed over to Drink and Draw. The air conditioning was broken so it was VERY hot, but we had a good time anyway. And I got to see Joy! Yay. I drew next month's So You Write comic and had a little time for fan art afterwards.
New reviews of my book:

Interviews, Features, Mentions:
      Reading progress:
      • Finished this week: No books, but still reading.
      • Currently reading: Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels & Michael M. Piechowski.
        New singing performances:

        Here I'm singing "Man of La Mancha" from the play Man of La Mancha. I was just being a goof here though--this performance is silly.


        New drawings:

        Webcomic So You Write Issue 61: "Good Luck."

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0580: "A Faraway Voice."

        New videos:


        New photos: 

        Blurry photo of my 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche playbook, wearing my "Deborah" nametag.
        Sloppy chic from a slob day.
        Partially finished Amethyst doodle I made at Drink and Draw . . .
        before realizing I had several shades of purple and none
        that were appropriate to color the rest of her.

        Social Media counts:
        YouTube subscribers: 5,335 for swankivy (lost 7), 572 for JulieSondra (4 new). Twitter followers: 814 for swankivy (4 new), 1,245 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Facebook: 291 friends (lost 1, don't know who) and 200 followers (no change) for swankivy, 635 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 124 likes for So You Write (3 new). Tumblr followers: 2,458 (10 new). Instagram followers: 75 (lost 1).

        Wednesday, June 22, 2016

        Wednesday Factoid: Sleepovers

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What are your favorite sleepover memories?

        This question was in the "childhood" section of the survey so I guess the goofy sleepovers I've had with friends in adulthood don't count. Darn it.

        I didn't have a ton of good sleepovers in childhood. I used to sometimes sleep over my best friend Ellen's house and we'd play games where she was the mom and I was the baby (even though she was younger than me) and we'd act things out, or we'd pretend to be Care Bears or Popples or make up dance routines to Madonna songs. I had a couple sleepovers in middle school with friends but I would have to say they are primarily not "favorite" memories at all.

        And in high school my friend Mia and I used to have ridiculous two-person parties (or sometimes three-person parties when my sister was invited), where we'd make videos using paper dolls, drink Sprite out of a bowl with straws, draw awful pictures, listen to music, make prank phone calls, and read magazines at each other. 

        Meghan and I also had a few awesome sleepovers and sometimes my entire high school crew crashed at my house because my mom didn't want them driving after holidays or something. That's about it.

        Tuesday, June 21, 2016

        A moderate approach

        Y'all who know me are aware that I have quite a long history of arguing with jerks online.

        Most people are of the opinion that I am too patient with jackasses. That I give them too much of my time and that I am too understanding. I think some of the people who say this don't understand my reasons for arguing in the first place; the ultimate goal is not just to "get them to leave me alone," and no, I don't imagine I'll be able to get through to all of them (or even most of them). When someone talks to me a certain way, I have my suspicions about how the conversation will go, and I will usually engage as long as it doesn't seem either deliberately trollish or outright dangerous, but I still recognize that some are doomed from the beginning. They generally make their attitude clear in the first comment; a certain tone, wording, or expressed philosophy will betray what they're really here to do, and I keep that in the forefront of my mind if I talk to them.

        However, when I know a conversation is hopeless--whether it's from the beginning or after a couple exchanges--I may still pursue an exchange because I intend to use the conversation as a learning tool for others. If I can't educate this particular person, I can still make it accessible to others who can learn about it from reading our interaction. And because of that, I'll still give these folks respect they have not earned, because I understand my words will be read by people who will want me to look like the reasonable one. It's easier to look like the voice of reason if you're not aggressive or insulting.

        But recently, someone in a YouTube comment exchange informed me that "the reason" many people don't support LGBTQ+ is that we're too aggressive about our activism, and they doubled down on this being the crux of our lack of acceptance when I offered perspectives and requested clarification. Actually, according to this person, the world is already accepting and almost everyone has no problem with us anymore, but because we keep pushing and making them feel bad, any remaining rejection and harassment we're experiencing is just backlash from a straight population that feels attacked BY US.

        And that person went on to say if we would just be more moderate in our approach, The Straights wouldn't feel attacked, and we shouldn't do stuff like . . . label their attitude "heteronormative" and whatnot. That's the real violence, you know. That's the real problem. That we react incorrectly to oppression, prejudice, and discrimination, and that we make the people dishing it out feel bad for not thinking about it before. What we really need to do is center the perceptions of straight cis people in our activism, because they weren't and aren't against us in any way except when we hurt them by claiming we're hurt.

        Oh, and they said straight people can be legally discriminated against now because there are LGBTQ quotas for stuff, and therefore the straight people who can't help their traits are being punished. Can you believe straight discrimination is legal now? Strangely, they did not reply again when I asked them to link me to this LGBTQ quota legislation. They also had no reply to my comment about how if you feel punished and stolen from if LGBTQ people are guaranteed something, you must have thought you and yours were entitled to it. It can't be "taken from you" without you believing it was yours. 

        And what we're saying with quotas, where they exist, is that maybe we should consider that it isn't automatically yours, since at the point a quota is introduced, it's been assumed that nothing except prejudice or discrimination explains a group's absence from a field. But in this person's world, trying to adjust for systemic oppression is not worth the risk of taking 4% of the opportunities away from straight people. That's just not the answer, and that's why straight people don't accept us. Why should we examine why we'd need a quota to get up to 4% represented in the first place even though more than 4% of the population is LGBTQ+, right? Stop asking the straights to accommodate you or you'll make them uncomfortable and then that will be the major reason you have the problems you do! Surely you didn't actually have these problems that were behind your whole purpose in pursuing activism and visibility in the first place, right?

        Obviously, I completely reject respectability politics and the idea that we do not deserve basic rights/accommodation/respect unless we prioritize the majority's comfort over ours. I find it laughable that some people present how we react to being hurt as the reason we're getting hurt. It comes up a lot in racism discussions too: gosh, if only people would stop talking about race so much, racism would go away! The only reason it's around still is that you people won't let it go! The majority of the problems you experience are because you won't stop reminding us that you have them! These kinds of statements are rooted in erasure and invisibility, because the people making these claims cannot see the -isms that affect your group until your group makes enough noise, and then they believe the problems started existing when you kicked up enough dust that they coughed. They actually believe the problems weren't even around before that, and are completely oblivious to the forces that caused other groups to kick that dust in the first place.

        But here's the thing. Because certain language sounds to me like it's coming from fully indoctrinated status quo worshipers who think the problems will stop existing when I stop complaining about them (because to them, that's what happens!), I have an immediate emotional reaction when I see it in my YouTube comments. And I have to hold back from assuming certain phrases, beliefs, and expressions automatically indicate a person who wants to hurt me. I mean, that's usually the case, and they are usually laying down tired, overplayed talking points that they think a) are logically airtight zingers and b) have never been considered by me before. But every once in a while, taking them at their word instead of assuming what's probably beneath results in a learning experience.

        This morning, I got a YouTube comment from a fellow who was upset that I complained about getting propositioned in a grocery store. I had a YouTube video detailing the way I was approached--that the man employed trickery to make me take his phone number, claiming I'd "dropped" the note that actually contained his contact details and written opinion that I was hot--and the video went on to discuss how I also feel about people expecting me to enjoy and appreciate that attention (or at least not ask men to stop doing it). The YouTube comment I got this morning contained a paragraph of scolding about how I should not blame the entire male gender for this behavior. He, after all, has never done this to a woman, and would not. Therefore, I am wrong when I say all men behave this way, and I am wrong to ask all men to accept responsibility for how some of them act.
        As you probably guessed, there was not a word in my video about "all men," and as you probably guessed, this is a very very very common derailing tactic people sometimes use to center themselves in conversations that are not about them if they were not the people engaged in the behavior we're complaining about. By hijacking the narrative, these #notallmen folks demand that conversations women have about their experiences become about prioritizing their feelings. When we talk about experiences we have, we must automatically be directing our commentary at them, and if they feel bad, we need to answer for it. The YouTube commenter did not acknowledge that I experienced it; he just wanted to bleat that he had not caused it.

        And, like, I know that.

        If you didn't do it? We're not talking to you.

        But we do want you to acknowledge that you may contribute to enabling this behavior if you refuse to agree that our feelings are appropriate and refuse to concede that these other men's behavior is deplorable. We would find it baffling if someone who didn't commit a crime needed to point out that he did not and would not commit this crime just because it was a man who committed it. So unless you do see yourself somehow in this man's actions, why would you feel the need to defend men in general? Why do you see yourself as part of the group that's accused if you would never? Why do you see a woman complaining about a man's behavior as reflecting on you--even if she says zero about men in general--unless women speaking about their experiences is never about them and always about you?

        So. Being that I've seen this over and over and over and over again . . . being that the video was about having the negative experience and then other people making noise about how awful it is that I feel the way I do about it . . . being that the video comments on that video go on to distract from my point and blather on about men's right to hit on women and not be criticized . . . being that #notallmen has been a hashtag for a long time and some guys are apparently hurt about that too . . . 

        being that I had to go insert "some" into that sentence because I know there are guys who would butt in to say "excuse me, but actually, you need to say some men or else you are logically implicating all of us . . ."

        being that the world is this way, I figured this notallmenning man makes a habit of interrupting women's conversations about themselves to tell us what's really important. (Answer: him and his feelings.) I had a knee-jerk reaction when I saw his declaration on behalf of men, defending them against an imagined insult. I wanted to talk to him like he knew what he was doing. I wanted to assume he's done it before, that he believes women's conversations about their experiences should still tiptoe around him and devote equal time to distributing cookies to the good guys, that he is actually talking to me the way he is because he wants there to be a punishment for women being mad at men-I-mean-SOME-MEN when they are mistreated by them.

        I wanted to assume all that. But I decided it would be better to engage him as if this was the very first time either of us has had this conversation; take his words at face value; treat him like he'd misinterpreted my words by accident through a poorly reasoned association instead of a deliberate attempt to hijack a woman's experience.

        So I explained, in a paragraph slightly shorter than his, that I hadn't blamed "all men" at all and that he's already doing the right thing if he's not behaving like this--and that when women say what's happened to them, the "good guys" do not have to pop up and say "well I didn't do it!"

        Something practically unheard-of in a YouTube comment happened then. The man told me I was 100% right and apologized.

        And I thanked him for listening. And the conversation ended there.

        I didn't shame him. I didn't call him a name. I didn't accuse him of doing or thinking anything in particular. I didn't sarcastically ask him if he wanted a participation ribbon and fifty-dollar savings bond in reward for not being an asshole to women. I kind of wanted to, because #notallmen but most men who say these things DO say them because they do not care about our problems and believe we're exaggerating or complaining about something that is not actually a problem. (Also known as "I'd LOVE it if strangers told me I was so hot they'd have sex with me!") But since all he did was say #notallmen, all I did was point out that I had not #allmenned in the first place, and that he would do well to avoid assuming that women are #allmenning when they talk about A Man or Things Men Have Done To Them.

        I took a moderate approach. I assumed he had the worst in mind, but I treated him otherwise partly because people who do think like that frequently accuse us of being illogical, overemotional, and hostile. There's nothing in my response that was as hostile as or more hostile than his. I did that on purpose. Because that way, if he had been one of the bad ones, he would have "seen" that I had "gotten hysterical" or "seemed bitter" just based on the fact that I replied at all, and he would have escalated his derailing and chalked the interaction up to another unreasonable, excitable feminist. Instead, he probably learned something, and everyone reading the conversation can still see that my points were solid.

        What it also does: it shows that sometimes you might be talking to someone who has never thought of taking themselves out of the center of a conversation before, and they're not necessarily starting crap with you as a means to an end (that end being "getting more ammunition to prove the Oppressed Group actually deserves the harassment they get because they brought it on themselves by not being nice enough"). If I treat the people with poor intent as if I don't know where they're coming from, any conversation with them can still be upheld as an entry point for later readers who might have agreed with the guy until they saw what I said about it.

        No one is obligated to treat attackers with gentleness. Especially when you see right through them and you know they're going for your throat. I completely support anyone's right to react with outrage and sarcasm when they're demeaned this way. But most of the time, when I take a minute to remember why I do activism, I try to frame my responses so people who are actually here to learn will be able to take what I want them to from my reply, even if they arrived primed to judge me and sympathize with my opponent. I want later readers to walk away thinking "Hm. She had a point." Even if the person I'm arguing with deserved to get a new hole drilled in his ass. That's who my messages are really for. The ones who are here to learn. (And once in a while when I have an inexcusably vile comment, I save my text-based axe murder for those. That way even they can serve a purpose: entertainment.)

        If your interaction with a detractor is personal, and you're doing it for you, you should react however you feel is appropriate. You should not have to toe some line of respectability to object to how you're being treated; they hurt you first, so how you act in response to being hurt is not what should be on trial here. (And despite what the first commenter I discussed above insisted, these incidents do not occur as a direct result of us being too angry and intolerant ourselves.) 

        We will hear tons of advice with sentiments like "don't fight fire with fire" and "rise above" and "be the bigger person" and "turn the other cheek." Which all go hand in hand with the supposition that our behavior upon being attacked is descriptive of our character and worth, while the people who attack us unthinkingly or deliberately should not be judged. We may be led to believe we deserve poor treatment if we cannot gracefully bear attacks, and that we in fact cause the attacks somehow by not letting them roll off our backs in a way that's pleasing to the watchful eyes of our persecutors. Don't accept that YOUR tolerance of intolerance should determine whether other people should get to keep being awful to you.

        I say all that because no one should feel like they HAVE to behave the way I choose to. I'm very privileged in many ways; I live a relatively safe and comfortable life, and I engage these folks on my terms. It does not wound me the way it would wound some people who weren't basically given armor at birth. (That's oversimplifying it but it'll do for now.) I do what I do because if I'm being unnecessarily gentle to someone who is explicitly out to harm me, he probably will not succeed, while I will get what I want out of that conversation: a nice representation of what kind of dick you should not be, with "but you were mean back!" removed as a potential reason for another reader to discount my argument. I am sometimes still told I'm too hostile (you know, because I'm responding at all), and I am sometimes assigned other problems that aren't so easily addressed, but I know exactly what I'm doing and it does not cost me the way it would cost many others.

        And once in a while, like this morning, it turns out I'm talking to someone who can be educated.

        Who walked away from our conversation apparently realizing he'd jumped to a conclusion he did not belong jumping to, and said he was sorry without any qualifiers about how I should have behaved toward him. It was a real apology too--not "I'm sorry you got upset," which is another way they claim you're "emotional" and put the blame on you for feeling a certain way instead of them doing something reprehensible to you. I'm glad it turned out how it did, though it does so so rarely that when it does happen I end up writing 3000+-word rambles about it. This reminded me that I am indeed making my message accessible for people who might be oblivious to others' disadvantages but who mean well. The people who want to learn.

        They're out there. And sometimes they're just wrong because nobody told them what was right before.

        Saturday, June 18, 2016

        Personal Digest Saturday: June 11 – June 17

        Life news this week: 
        • What a week I've had. :/ At least I had a pretty relaxing weekend, except for, you know, A MASSIVE SHOOTING HAPPENED AN HOUR AWAY FROM ME against people I consider part of my community. I spent Saturday and Sunday not doing a whole lot--did basic housework stuff and talked to my sister on the phone and watched a bunch of cartoons, and I made a video. But when the week started it was pretty exhausting.
        • Monday I was superwoman basically. After work I went grocery shopping, went to the bike store to get some repairs scheduled, went to a store to buy some gifts (and a couple treats for myself), and grabbed a meal before playing Dance Dance Revolution and jumping in the shower. And then I got to relax a little and opened the packages of Steven Universe dog tags that I bought myself. I was missing four tags from the complete collection and I got ALL of the ones I was missing, including the other rare one I was missing! I took pictures of them and put them on Tumblr.
        • Tuesday I argued with YouTube butts and my mom took me to her house. (We've been hanging out at my house most of the time lately, so I hadn't been over there in a while.) She wanted me to scrub her bathtub for her because she can't do it now because of her back. So I did that in exchange for soup and grilled cheese. Heh. Also ate a chocolate popsicle in the wee hours of the morning while we were talking and listening to some song recordings I'd made.
        • Wednesday I had coffee at my mom's before going back home, grabbing a shower, and getting in to work. I finalized some room visits for my friend Victor--I've been helping him find a new roommate, and I had two possibilities scheduled for us to visit--and after work I met with Jeaux and we ate at Jet's Pizza. They didn't have a place to eat in, so we bought the pizza and took it to my house. We listened to Night Vale and chatted, and after he left I chilled watching more cartoons.
        • Thursday I didn't go to work because I was helping Victor! I took a bus to meet him in the early afternoon; he had a job interview in the morning, and was coming to tour apartments, with me there as moral support I guess. Well, we had a REALLY hard time because Victor's old leg injury was acting up. And he even fell down in the road once. We sort of had a schedule but it was pushed WAY back because he couldn't walk very far without needing to sit down. We FINALLY made it to the first guy's house and he hung out a while talking to the guy while I stood around and tried to figure out a way for us to get out of there without making him make another massive hike to the bus stop on that leg. Happily my mom was around to rescue us! She came and picked us up, and also took us to the other visit before taking us home. What a nice mom. (And she wouldn't even take the gas money Victor offered her.) I bought Victor a stromboli and we hung out eating and watching cartoons, and then he fell asleep after an exhausting day.
        • Friday I went back to work. Victor left by himself in the morning and I did some office stuff, then came home and finished my comic. My mom came over to pick up some papers for her taxes, but other than that I just zoned out watching fun things.
        Interviews, Features, Mentions:
        • wtfdynamics on Tumblr was very excited to see my book in the wild!
        • Wikipedia now lists me as an American author. I had zero to do with this entry (I don't edit Wikipedia), so it doesn't surprise me that a few of its facts are wrong or framed misleadingly. Ahem:
          • It says I was "sexually assaulted by a male friend" who I eventually "repelled," for instance--I sometimes talk about this incident online, which was where a guy licked me on the face after I said I did not want to kiss, and then he yelled that he was just trying to help me when I walked away, but I did not "eventually repel" him (what? there was nothing "eventual" about me walking away from him immediately), and I didn't date him or anything. I was clear from the beginning. It's technically sexual assault. I don't frame it like that usually and don't discuss this as if it was really important in my asexuality story the way the Wikipedia entry sort of implies.
          • My first YouTube videos were uploaded in 2007 and they list the wrong one as my first. It's understandable though because the oldest videos are now made private because the audio went out of sync for no reason after the vids had been up for a couple years, and I fixed the audio and reuploaded them and gave the original date of the videos in my reuploads.
          • There are mistakes in the writing, like that I refer to myself as an "aromatic" asexual (lol) and that "Decker feels that it is important to speak for 'asexual who are insecure or depressed.'" Really bad editing there, as they phrased that like it was a quote from me or something. It isn't. Especially not with that language mistake.
          • The entry claims I have covered on my YouTube channel. I have not. Probably they assumed my recording of "Butterfly" is the song. It isn't. It's Rajaton. (It says so in the title so I don't know why they got that wrong.) I have covered on Singsnap but never on YouTube.
        Reading progress:
        • Finished this week: No books, but still reading.
        • Currently reading: Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels & Michael M. Piechowski.
          New singing performances:

          Here I'm singing "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston.


          New drawings:

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0579: "This Sublime."

          New videos:

          New photos: 

          My completed collection of Steven Universe dog tags!
          "Hot and tired" photo from the day I was looking for apartments with Victor.

          And the haircut comparison photos:

          Front, February 2014
          Front, June 2016
          Back, February 2014
          Back, June 2016

          Social Media counts:
          YouTube subscribers: 5,342 for swankivy (lost 6), 568 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 810 for swankivy (11 new), 1,246 for JulieSondra (4 new). Facebook: 292 friends (no change) and 200 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 636 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 121 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 2,448 (1 new). Instagram followers: 76 (1 new).

          Wednesday, June 15, 2016

          Wednesday Factoid: Crying

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How often do you cry?

          Oh, all the time.

          Occasionally I cry from laughing too hard, but more frequently I cry about moving things or sad things. Anything that's emotional in any way can make me cry. I don't exactly have "crybaby" tendencies (at least, not as an adult), since difficult and frustrating situations in everyday life don't tend to make me cry, but fiction makes me cry when it's beautiful or sad, and other people's tragedies move me to tears all the damn time.

          And sometimes I cry when I'm writing my own stuff, but that's kind of a given.

          Here are a few songs that make me cry.

          I have cried over these books:

          And of course I cry over cartoons way too much. Even after all the times I've watched this episode, I have not yet ONCE made it through Ruby and Sapphire's song without crying, because I am a mess.

          Monday, June 13, 2016

          Just gays this time

          There was a catastrophic hate crime committed in my state this weekend, as I'm sure many of you heard. Some guy shot dozens of people at a gay club and approximately fifty people died. Even though some talking heads are suggesting this is just another senseless act of Muslim terrorism, it's evident that it is a targeted, specific act of homophobia, and that plenty of people violently hate our community.

          Here's a collection of tweets in which people shamelessly celebrate that gay people were the targets.

          The "gays" are considered guilty here. I mean, I guess if you're a homophobic jackass who believes being gay is a sin, you believe they're committing crimes just because they love who they want to love. Oh, and in the spirit of Christian love, the "guilty" should be gunned down and killed without trial--not a process they believe should apply to "guilty" people in other contexts--and they're actively gloating and feeling justified at seeing so many people dead. Some of the people at that link above, predictably, ramble on about how this is obviously God's judgment. (Somehow when tragedies happen in their communities or to one of their own, it doesn't suggest God wants them to change anything. It's transparently hypocritical, but they don't care.)

          This reminds me of the time the Hunger Games trailers came out and people were upset that the character Rue was cast as a little black girl. The fact that she was explicitly described as black in the book didn't seem to hit home with these people, because this character was also described as innocent, reminiscent of the protagonist's little sister, and in need of protection. It was a tragedy in the story when she died--one of the most moving events of the trilogy--but when the trailers came out, a whole mess of people ran to Twitter to announce that they did not like black Rue and that it messed with their sense that she was "innocent."

          Innocent, to them, was a little white girl. Little black girls are automatically not "innocent" and cannot invoke the angelic image this character carries.

          And they had absolutely no problem saying so publicly.

          "Innocent" is such a disgusting word when used this way, because its counterpart is "guilty" and guilty = "deserved it." People are unashamed of applauding this murderer and labeling the victims as having had such a death coming to them. Because they were gay, or at least they were at a gay club. Execution. Death. Because this person does not personally accept gay people, and because he lives in a society where many, many people see their lives as a crime.

          This is one of the many reasons why I hate the tendency our society has toward claiming we've achieved equality when the laws finally reflect common sense. In these folks' opinion, women became equal when they could vote, black people became equal when they were no longer slaves, and gay people stopped being oppressed when they could get married. What more do you want? they say. Your "issue" is solved. You are equal now. Your further dedication to awareness, pride, and activism is just about getting attention and shaming the rest of us, and all this political correctness is intolerable.

          We did not need another shooting to remind us that oppression isn't over, though such sensationalistic, violent happenings do tend to wake people up when they refuse to look at the smaller things our community deals with. The microaggressions. The "tolerance." The awful representation in media. The fact that every tragedy is painted over with people blaming the shooters' supposed mental illness or religion and refusing to acknowledge this is an extreme manifestation of homophobia. The fact that people publicly crow about your well-deserved murder without fear of reprisal, because they believe it's self-evident that you shouldn't be alive and shouldn't be free. These are not just individual wingnuts. When one person is willing to open fire on a crowd of your people, it's partly because people taught that person to hate you. Taught them it's natural to hate you. Taught them the answer to hating someone is to destroy them. The people who won't go that far are still feeding into the violence. Every time someone tweets "thank God more gays are dead," they're creating fuel for the next fire.

          Saturday, June 11, 2016

          Personal Digest Saturday: June 4 – June 10

          Life news this week: 
          • Saturday was the first full day of Mike's visit. We are both homebody nerds so we didn't really do much of anything, but we did decide to go out to brunch at a place called Keke's. I had an omelet. Yum. We also watched cartoons and I exposed him to Hamilton because he had not yet been exposed, and we had potatoes with veggie soup on them.
          • Sunday we didn't do anything but play around watching videos and eating waffles. Haha. We also watched the movie 1776 for another perspective on the time period Hamilton was set in; neither of us had seen it before, though I had owned it on DVD for years. We had tofu and veggies for dinner.
          • Rain! Mike left in the morning and went off to catch the bus. I had to go to work in the gross rain. Work started to get kinda stressful because we had a thing to turn in coming up, and the rain got kinda terrible so my mom took me home that day. I didn't really get anything productive done at home that day.
          • Tuesday I had to do more work on the package for work and I kept messing stuff up that I should have known better on. At home I made and ate more tofu and read historical cartoon documents, and got some editing done on Bad Fairy 2.
          • Wednesday was again pretty terrible. I was trying to get this document out so I wouldn't have to come in early to send it, but I got kind of rushed at the end and then later discovered I'd put the wrong organizational chart into our package so I had to resubmit it. (Nobody yelled at me for it and I caught the mistake myself, but still. I don't know what it is with all this stuff I'm not noticing. I might need more sleep.) Other than that, Jeaux Day was nice. We ate at Glory Days and I gave him a random present: a Cookie Cat backpack. He hugged me and then said "I was so happy I actually *touched* you, ew!" Haha. I handled some roommate-related stuff for my friend Victor, and also I visited the good old talker MuMu Land for the first time in a long while--they booted it up and ran it again.
          • Thursday was bad again because something I'd researched for the package turned out to not be the right answer, so we had to scramble to fix it and that was all apparently done before I got there in the morning. It's just really frustrating. (I guess it's not really my fault since I asked the person I was supposed to ask and that's the answer they gave me, but I didn't have the same information my co-workers had and if I had, I would have been able to get it right the first time.) Mom came over after work and we ate at Village Inn. She was supposed to stay the night but she went home because she ran out of cigarettes. I got some drawing done.
          • Friday was work and avoiding the rain. At home I hung out on MuMu again and finished my comic, and spent the evening looking at cartoon stuff to de-stress. :)
                Reading progress:
                • Finished this week: No books, but still reading.
                • Currently reading: Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels & Michael M. Piechowski.
                  New singing performances:

                  Here I'm singing "All About Us" by t.A.T.u.


                  New drawings:

                  Colored and did grays for some Steven drawings while Mike was visiting.

                  Webcomic Negative One Issue 0578: "Still Not a Beach."

                  New videos:


                  New photos: 

                  Nothing really to share.;)
                  Social Media counts:
                  YouTube subscribers: 5,342 for swankivy (6 new), 568 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 789 for swankivy (2 new), 1,242 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 292 friends (1 new--friended Keener) and 199 followers (no change) for swankivy, 637 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 120 likes for So You Write (lost 1). Tumblr followers: 2,447 (1 new). Instagram followers: 75 (no change).

                  Wednesday, June 8, 2016

                  Wednesday Factoid: Generational Misunderstandings

                  Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What do older generations misunderstand about yours?

                  There are a ton of misunderstandings about my generation on the part of my parents' generation, and I doubt I could really go into everything, but one of the ones that steams me the most is this idea that we are oversensitive and "politically correct," and that this represents an issue of entitlement on our part rather than on theirs.

                  What I usually hear is that the generations before mine are tired of people being ~so sensitive~ about, say, sexist or racist jokes, bigoted comments, nasty terminology that has been phased out for a reason, or proper accommodation for disabilities and illnesses. And while they usually suggest asking them to change is baffling or unfair or pointless, I think it just says they're from a world where others were less visible to them.

                  My generation and those that have come after mine have had more everyday contact with global perspectives and populations we might not have otherwise, while people in previous generations usually only knew about these issues if they were world travelers or specialized in the issues unique to certain populations--or if they were members of said populations themselves. Now that the Internet has connected us with so many previously invisible-to-majority-culture groups and individuals, "we" are learning in detail how those folks would like to be talked about, included, and regarded. We are learning these things from them, and they are finding more resources to develop consensus about it, because of the interconnectedness of Internet culture.

                  It's not perfect now, of course, but it's getting better, and when I hear a member of an older generation bemoan the "PC culture," I have to shake my head. What I hear is their desire to return to thoughtlessly bigoted perspectives--when they didn't have to feel bad about not considering others and didn't have to look at people who were victimized by or inconvenienced by their attitudes. Now that they're being asked to be inclusive and to change attitudes or terminology they may have used without question for years, some are quick to cry victim. This almost always sounds like "things were simpler in my day."

                  Things weren't simpler back then. They just didn't know that people had these problems or what they wanted, and it did not occur to them to seek out their perspectives. Now that tools have developed to make visibility and discussion more accessible, I'm hearing ridiculous comments that imply the identities, issues, and attitudes were literally invented for the Internet at the very time that tools were invented to see them. People with disabilities have always wanted more accessibility in various aspects of their lives, for instance, but the traditional crowd who doesn't want to change ends up saying "oh come on now--we didn't have to think about that back in my day! What's next, [some ridiculous slippery slope argument that does NOT represent where this is going]?" That's actually kind of the point. You didn't have to think about it in your day; therefore you did not; therefore this group suffered under inaccessible resources. Generalize this to issues associated with sexual orientation, race, gender, and more, and you will certainly see examples of people resisting on the grounds that they never had to think about this before and don't want to start now--therefore, the people who have always wanted this change are unreasonable, and this is a consequence of being from an "overly PC" generation.

                  Obviously people from my generation and younger also do this--that is, they whine about having to be politically correct and exaggerate the difficulty and intensity of what people are asking them to change. And obviously people from my parents' generation and before do not all do this. (I shouldn't have to type that to avoid people scurrying to my comments to defend their generation, but here we are.) But the fact remains that generations before mine tend to use "gosh, these minorities weren't so darn uppity in my day--why can't we go back to that Golden Era?" as an excuse to categorize later generations as unreasonable.

                  Tuesday, June 7, 2016

                  Can't stop there

                  I'm (still) in the process of working through edits on my second Bad Fairy book and people are still surprising me with their enthusiasm.

                  Ever since I started writing and sharing my work, I've received responses here and there that suggest I'm doing something right to build suspense or get people invested. And even though I know what I wrote, it kinda still surprises me.

                  People are waiting to find out what happens next. Biting their nails over stuff they can't have yet. Wondering what's coming and caring about the characters.

                  I love this, but I have to admit that for a loooooong time I assumed I was being humored. People manufacture excitement sometimes to make you feel like you've done well if they care about you and want to seem positive, and I guess sometimes I felt like I couldn't possibly have written characters people cared that much about even though I cared about them. For my webcomic I sometimes get comments or private messages suggesting people are eagerly anticipating the next volume to find out where the story's going to go, and I have to admit . . . even now I just kinda look at them and think "really?" Like are you kidding?

                  I am not sure why I think that way. I like to think I'm a decent writer; if I didn't think so, I wouldn't have tried submitting my work to agents or publishers or magazines, and I wouldn't spend so damn much time with fictional people. So how come when people tell me they're really excited about seeing more, I sort of don't believe them?

                  So anyway. Y'all who follow me around these here Internet parts know I'm pretty obsessed with a cartoon these days, and one of the ways I make excuses to watch the episodes again is tuning in to reaction videos from viewers on YouTube. Yes, I watch people watch television. Last night I was enjoying the video reactions of a guy who hit one of the plotty episodes and when the credits rolled he yelled "No, you can't end it there! Come on!" The enthusiasm and frustration was so much fun for me as a person who knows what comes next (and who knows how long he'll have to wait for the answers he wants at that point), and I realized something weird. That reaction I had of "heheheeee, you'll seeeeee" was actually very similar to how I feel when people are reading something I wrote and I know they probably aren't ready for what's coming.

                  And I got to thinking . . . how come I can accept that people are legitimately enthused about someone else's work, but I don't have the same level of confidence in their investment in mine? Maybe because I think other people's fiction is just so good and I can't imagine that mine ever has a similar impact? Maybe because I had a similar reaction when I enjoyed their work so seeing it mirrored by someone else feels authentic? Maybe because I can imagine anything I want about these characters and their past and their future and that's as "real" as it can be, so it doesn't feel like it's the same level of real for the rest of the world? Maybe because nothing I ever write will impress me the way fiction impresses me when it comes out of someone else's very different thought process?

                  Through other people's fiction (including, yes, this cartoon), I'm learning a lot about subtlety and developing investment in characters and trusting my audience and using perspective to keep readers' attention. But I'm also trying to imagine other people feeling about my stuff the way I have felt about others' work and reminding myself that there are many reasons I need to keep the story going. . . .

                  Saturday, June 4, 2016

                  Personal Digest Saturday: May 28 – June 3

                  Life news this week: 
                  • I had a pretty relaxing Saturday even though I didn't get much done. Though I did get a Steven Universe doodles page done to collect my very few fan drawings for the cartoon.
                  • Sunday I got going with actual productive stuff and managed to make a video, did karaoke, did laundry, and sent out some short stories to magazines since I'd been slacking on that. And even did some e-mail. And entertained myself by returning to Drawception for a few rounds.
                  • Monday was Memorial Day and I had the day off. I did some video editing that ended up taking all day, so I never got around to writing the short story I wanted to write.
                  • Tuesday was back to work. Got the news at the office that we came in second on a contract we really wanted, boo, and then at home my mom took me shopping (yay) and hung out all night to chat.
                  • Wednesday I helped my boss with some parking garage plans and then met up with Jeaux for Jeaux Day. It was lightly raining and that was a pain. We ate at PDQ (they made me a grilled cheese sandwich!) and then we biked out to Five Below where they had a Steven Universe product that I actually did not buy. (Jeaux was shocked.) We had gone there for a cheap cable for him. We listened to Night Vale, and after he left I did some reading.
                  • Thursday was a new-in-the-US Steven Universe and so I drew some Rubies on my calendar, and I chatted with Victor on the phone in the evening.
                  • Friday was work and grocery shopping, and I came home to post my comic and hang out with my friend Mike, who's here from Gainesville. We watched some cartoons and ate some food.
                    New reviews of my book:

                    • None!

                    Interviews, Features, Mentions:

                        • Love, Canberra had an asexuality-related podcast and my book was mentioned.
                            Reading progress:
                            • Finished this week: No books, but still reading.
                            • Currently reading: Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels & Michael M. Piechowski.
                              New singing performances:

                              Here I'm singing "Single" by Natasha Bedingfield.


                              New drawings:

                              I doodled some angry Rubies on my calendar in honor of the new-this-week episode of Steven Universe, "Hit the Diamond."
                              And I drew these a while ago but I can share it now because it was for a birthday card and the person has received it now. :)

                              Rose Quartz!

                              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0577: "Should She Return."

                              New videos:

                              The 30-Question Blog Survey is on my writing channel, featuring a long survey people can do about their writing, while sharing my own answers to the survey questions.

                              New photos: 

                              Nothing really to share. I took a photo of my mom's haircut but you don't need to see it here. ;)
                              Social Media counts:
                              YouTube subscribers: 5,336 for swankivy (6 new), 567 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 787 for swankivy (1 new), 1,242 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 291 friends (no change) and 199 followers (no change) for swankivy, 637 likes for JulieSondra (3 new), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 121 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,446 (3 new). Instagram followers: 75 (3 new).